Last year we stretched ourselves pretty thin, and wound up having none of the planned pre-Fest rest time we wanted and went in exhausted. This year we took the whole week a lot slower, which oddly made it seem to pass much more quickly. But at least we weren't bone tired from running all over Hell and back. Fistula and I made another trip to Half Price Books since he didn't get to go the first time, and then we went to a rather underwhelming comic shop before heading back to pick Mal up and head to Nerd Valhalla.
A few years ago, a car load of BMMBers got lost on the way back from the Hala Kahiki and wound up driving by a scale replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa that has come to be known as the Leaning Tower of Niles, named for the suburb it's located in. I've been by it since, and I think it must have been the circumstances of its discovery that made it so special. It must have been surreal at the time, but if you see it in broad daylight without a bellyful of rum, it's no great shakes. But driving from the Half Price Books to the comic shop, Fistula's GPS took us along a strip of public park land dotted with...well, I suppose it's art to someone. We found our own special landmarks in a statue that looked like a man made entirely of bird poop, and another structure that resembled nothing so much as a fifteen-foot-tall prolapsed sphincter shooting up out of the ground. Leaning Tower of Exploded Asshole.
One thing we always try to do and never seem to pull off is getting to the theater with plenty of time to go so we can make sure to get an aisle seat. We always manage to get good seats, but it tends to be done in a rush. This year we got in almost two hours early, and there were only ten or so people already in the theater. Having a relaxing Friday makes a huge difference, and it was very enjoyable to be able to hang out with Paul Xinfinity, fellow Gigan enthusiast Gavin “Mudpuppy” Smith, Jacob “Raven NightDragon” Smith (no relation) without running around trying to find room for our cooler before the first movie started. I got to do little more than say, “hello” to Gavin last year (and sorry for mistaking you for someone else at the tiki bar, dude), and Paul brought some spectacular homemade cookies, with a special “Hate Face” cookie just for Mal.
We were first in line to pick up our tickets, buy another brilliant Mitch O'Connell t-shirt, and grab a poster and for the first time since 2009 an official B-Fest cup! Gradually the rest of the crew rolled in, Tim and Sean and Meg, the Amazing KO Brothers (and once again, I didn't get to talk to them nearly enough), Chad, Mike, Bill, Skip, Santo, Juniper, BJ with his horrid disease, El Dogo and probably a bunch of others I apologize for forgetting at the moment. A B-Fest first timer, the Reverend D. D. from the board, was there, but I didn't get to meet him until we took the group photo at the end.
6:00pm The Best of the Best: The tradition of opening B-Fest with an 80's action movie lives on. It's a great way to get the crowd fired up with a loud, stupid, high-energy flick that has plenty of easy riffing potential. A competition for either tae kwon do or karate (the movie can't quite seem to make up its mind) between the US and Korea (and why is this huge international competition only between two countries?) is the stage for a bunch of cliched character drama, and in the end Korea wins but because one of the US team spared the life of the fighter who killed his brother in a previous competition, the Korean fighter repents his evil ways and gives the guy from the US his medal. Much hugging and crying ensues. I had no idea so many old people were martial arts fans, as the audiences for the various fighting events are all in their 80's. Eric Roberts wears plunging v-neck sweaters, Chris Penn is a chubby redneck, and James Earl Jones earns a car payment as the US team's coach, and one of this year's two running jokes is begun in glorious fashion because of the way he exhorts his fighters to become a TEEEEEAAAAAAAMMMMMM!
7:50pm Astro Zombies: I love John Carradine more than a lot of people, but even he can't make real-time transistor radio repair interesting. Ted V. Mikels makes a feature length movie out of people reading official reports, and only some of the time do they read them out loud. I may have dozed off a little during this one, because there are some blank spots in my recollection, and those are my favorite parts of the movie.
9:30pm To Catch A Yeti: Ah, that's more like it. A Canadian TV movie about a spoiled rich kid who wants a yeti as a pet, so his dad hires Great White Hunter ™ Meat Loaf to do the job. Through a series of mishaps, the yeti winds up living with an Average American Family ™ in a suspiciously Toronto-esque New York City, and wackiness ensues as Meat Loaf and his Silent Bob looking assistant try to get the yeti back. Murder, child abuse, and what may have been some implied child-on-child sexual violence are played off as comedy. This movie is in a league of its own. Everyone within ten seats of us was probably ready to kill us as Fistula and I latched on to the yeti having constant diarrhea as our running joke theme very early on, and made at least one poop joke every minute or two for the entire running time. Puerile? Absolutely. But we had a blast and I don't care. One of my favorite riffing flicks of this year.
Stop! Raffle time! I got a copy of The Abominable Dr. Phibes from Tim's prize pile, and he did go to some lengths to rig it so I would win copy #6 of Flesh. The problem was, although I had been expecting this one because of how obvious a time it would be to hit me with another copy, the series of excuses used to get the winning number in my hands were a little too good. He had BJ ask me to hold his number, the rigged one, while he went to the bathroom, and he did it very naturally and with no fanfare, so I believed I really was just holding a number for a friend. Then when he came back, we were separated by a small crowd of people. I asked Tim, who was between us, to hand it back to him, but since BJ was just getting over a Turbo Death Cold, and Tim missed almost the entire Fest last year for the same reason, when he said he didn't want to get near BJ I believed that as well. So when #40 was called, I insisted BJ take his number back even though his offer to let me have it should have been a clue. So I made the poor sick man walk all the way to the stage dodging coolers and lounging nerds, to bring me more Flesh.
This year I finally decided it was time to skip Plan 9. I do love it, especially with the traditional crowd responses at B-Fest (myself, Fistula, and Bob once saw a midnight show of Legend Films's colorized version and tried to get the crowd going with some of the call and response stuff, and no one got it), but I've seen this thing probably 20 times, and out of all the movies in this year's lineup, I'd only seen three of the movies before and hadn't even heard of another three. Not generally being a fan of blaxploitation, and having been warned that Death Bed: The Bed That Eats was really slow moving and set to play right before the movie I was most excited to see, I decided that the midnight-through-4am slot was prime nap time so I'd have plenty of energy for the movies I was looking forward to. It's amazing how far a four hour power nap will go.
But there are a lot of movies yet to go, and none so delightful as what I would experience upon awakening and returning to my seat.